Prensa Latina reports that more than 3 hundred people from the Caribbean region are being held in solitary confinement in about 30 penitentiaries in the United States. The most obvious problem is the practice of solitary confinement for long periods; in these cases, sensory deprivation is an important issue and may constitute torture.
The source quoted data from U.S. Immigration Service and Custom Control (ICE), highlighting that most prisoners remain in isolation for 15 days or more and around 35 have been there longer than 2 months. “ICE uses excessive force, since these are civilian detentions”, said Dr. Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist that studies solitary confinement at the Wright Institute. “The situation is even worse because many of them do not have lawyers and their families are afraid to complain,” he said.
Ernestine Fobs, ICE spokeswoman, backed up that policy and assured that immigrants are separated from the rest of the penitentiary population. Due to disciplinary reasons, detainees are isolated only “as a last resort, when other options are not available to deal with the specific issues of the situation”, she said.
An adviser who helped to review ICE data said that two thirds of immigrants under solitary confinement were punished due to disciplinary reasons, such as breaking prison rules, talking back to guards or fighting, said CMC. Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, called for the prohibition of solitary confinement except in limited situations, said CMC. “The United States has broken the obligations to which they themselves committed in the Convention against Torture,” he said recently. According to Mendez, detainees should not be imprisoned for long periods of 15 days or more, because sensory deprivation may constitute a torture.
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